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BLOOMINGTON - A bright yellow jackhammer planted into the asphalt parking lot under the Bloomington Public Library provided the broken ground for library officials to celebrate the start of construction.

The library will undergo a nearly $3 million renovation and expansion over the next year.

In a ceremony Wednesday, board President Carol Koos stood next to the jackhammer while others gathered with silver shovels for a photograph.

"Hey, lady, do you have a union card to operate that?" shouted one of the on-lookers to Koos.

The smiles and jokes, Koos said, were all part of the relief of getting the project under way after eight years of discussion.

"It has been years of work and it is thrilling to get to this point," Koos said.

The project will expand the library by about 7,500 square feet by building into the parking area now covered by the library's main floor.

Library interim co-director Krysta Tepper said the renovation will recapture about 4,000 square feet in the upper lobby and business office. One main entrance will be created on the lower level adjacent to the library's parking lot, as well.

Koos said the expansion is more than just adding onto the library.

"And it is the good gesture of those who have worked so very hard in support of the expansion to bring us to this point to not only build a bigger space, but to build better dreams, better resources for knowledge and a better environment for this to take place in," Koos said.

Funding comes from a $3 million loan from the city. Felmley Dickerson Co. is the general contractor. The plans were designed by PSA-Dewberry.

John Meek of Felmley Dickerson told the crowd of 75 or so that he remembered getting his first library card from Withers Library, which preceded the current building at 205 E. Olive St.

"Thirty years after this was built, I still think of it as the new library," Meek said. "Now with a great team of people, we will create a new library here again."

Construction will take place in three stages. The first stage will expand the lower level of the building and will take about nine months. The second and third phases will include renovating the existing building and will take a total of five months.

The expansion will include a new audio-visual area, drive-up book drops, two group study rooms, a quiet reading room and more shelving space for books.

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